The frenzied race to enter the tablet computer market and offer competition to Apple’s iPad continues. Sony Corp. (ticker SNE) said Tuesday it plans to enter the tablet-computer segment later this year with two models running Google Inc.’s Android operating system.
Sony’s two tablets—code-named S1 and S2—will be released late this year. The S1 is a slate-style tablet computer with a 9.4-inch touchscreen display that is thick on one end and tapers. The S2 is a shell-shaped device that opens and closes, with two 5.5-inch touch-screen displays. Sony said it will run the Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system, which was created specifically for tablet computers. The company showed how the tablet would enable fast web browsing and would be capable of playing PlayStation-quality videogames. Both devices will run Nvidia Inc.’s Tegra 2 processors. The company said the two devices will also come with wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi or 3G/4G services. The two tablets will also be the first to enable the use of PlayStation games. Sony did not specify which mobile carriers it plans to work with, and offered no details on pricing or sales target.
Sony will face an uphill battle as it attempts to differentiate itself in the tablet computer marketplace. While demand for tablets is strong, the field is also crowded with nearly every electronics and PC maker unveiling offerings of their own. Sony has said it aims to establish itself as the No. 2 tablet maker after Apple by 2012. Global sales of tablet devices are expected to quadruple to about 294 million units between 2011 and 2015, with almost half of that Android-based, the research firm Gartner has forecast. In a bid to tap that burgeoning demand, competitors including Samsung Electronics, whose Galaxy Tab is Apple’s strongest competitor in the tablet market; Motorola; LG Electronics; and HTC are flooding the market with tablets running Android.
Sony’s stock price has been seriously downtrending for quite some time and is currently trading below its’ 200 day moving average at $29.61. Quarterly results are scheduled to be announced on May 26, 2011.